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Overburning: 100 Minutes Of Music Per CD, Continued

Overburning: 100 Minutes On An Audio CD
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But is that all there is - speed and burn time? Do people buy CD burners based on their ability to churn out data CDs, or do they want to create backup copies by the truckload? Most of the test reviews on CD burners have focused on factors such as error correction, data transfer rate and recording speed. But the question remains: how well can these devices overburn music CDs, how well can they pack 90 minutes and more onto one CD? The flip side of this question is equally important: which playback devices are actually capable of handling these oversized CDs? We aren't just talking about audio CDs here. After all, you can also burn data CDs with over 890 MB of data. This question is of particular interest to MPEG-4 enthusiasts (XFlask 4.3a and Divx 5.0 Pro) who are often stuck with an enormous amount of data after converting a DVD to MPEG-2 format. In this case, it can be a big help to be able to burn a two-hour movie in MPEG-4 format onto a single CD ROM that offers a capacity of almost 900 MB.


High-tech CD changer with a 100 minute music CD in a modern car.

In this article, we tackle the issue of overburning. It turns out that this is not as trivial a problem as the majority of manufacturers proclaim. A list of overburn features on a package is by no means a guarantee that everything will work out in practice. But first, the good news - CDR-99 blanks can hold more than 100 minutes of music or up to 900 MB of data!

CDR-99: The Lowdown On Oversized CD Blanks

The CD-R21, CD-R74 and CD-R80 formats are based on the CD standard, which was established some time ago. The latest formats, CD-R90 and CD-R99, have been around for about two years. According to its specifications, the CD-R99 can hold up to 99 minutes of music, or a data volume of about 870 MB - this is an increase of 34 percent from the standard CD-R74s. This feat was accomplished by drawing the tracks closer together and by utilizing portions of the lead-out area for data. Some manufacturers who have CD burners on the market today claim that they can handle oversized CDs. Such is the case with the Asus CRW-3212A, which we test in this article. Our practical test shows whether or not users actually have access to this feature.

The following requirements must be met in order to create audio CDs that hold more than 100 minutes of music, or data CDs that hold almost 900 MB of data:

  1. The CD burner must be physically able to process CD-R99 media. On more recent models, updating BIOS can often enable this feature. Additionally, the lowest writing speed for the burner should be 2x or, at most, 4x. If you use speeds that exceed these values to burn a blank oversized CD, the process will generally be abruptly aborted and the CD ruined.
  2. The burning software must support both overburning as well as storage media with a capacity of up to 120 minutes (1060 MB). In our experience, the current versions of Nero Burning ROM, 5.5.7.8, and Golden Hawk 4.0A are excellent burning programs.
  3. The blank CD itself should be labelled as a CD-R99, otherwise it doesn't support the higher data capacity. In general, any burning program can read the data on the blank, although most programs will categorize the blank as "CD-R80 or 79:59 minutes." But don't be fooled - more than 100 minutes of music (or roughly 900 MB of data) will fit on the blank.
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